Dear Brooklyn A Supporters:
Many recent media reports speak of COVID-19 as a great equalizer that infects people regardless of race, class, or country. In theory, this is true, but in practice, the virus is disproportionately impacting vulnerable populations . As recent data is highlighting , in New York City, the neighborhoods with the highest percentages of people testing positive for COVID-19 are also the neighborhoods with the highest rates of people of color, service workers, and rent-burned households. These communities are facing a high density of the virus because they are the most exposed and the least resourced in health care, affordable housing, language access, and reasonable commutes. For many, social distancing or staying home is not a privilege they can afford.
These are the low-income, working-class communities, largely comprised of people of color, that have been historically disenfranchised and victim to racial and economic injustice. They are also the communities that Brooklyn A has served from our founding 51 years ago.
Our direct legal services and advocacy address the other crises that the public health and economic crisis is illuminating – extreme inequality along racial and socioeconomic lines.
As we know, this crisis is far from over. We also know that the short- and long-term effects are unknown. However, it will undoubtedly be incredibly detrimental to our most vulnerable city residents and community structures that were already struggling before the COVID-19 outbreak . Consequences that we foresee based on our experience and recent conversations with our clients include:
- increased evictions and foreclosures for individuals and families struggling to pay rent and mortgages due to loss of income from job loss, work reduction, or illness or death of family members
- large numbers of closures of small businesses, which provide affordable and culturally relevant services and are the largest source of employment in NYC
- increased residential and commercial displacement pressure and discrimination from property owners who have suffered financially due to the crisis
- financial strain on community-based organizations that provide essential support services to the communities they serve
Brooklyn A is already working to respond to each of these needs. It is more important than ever for us to maintain and strengthen the safety nets in our city. Access to high-quality, free legal services and advocacy is a crucial part of this equation.
Brooklyn A provides services in the following areas:
- deed theft, predatory lending and foreclosure prevention
- tax issues
- tenant advocacy (eviction prevention, anti-harassment, fair housing claims, repairs and essential services, etc.)
- landlord negotiations for small business owners
- transactional legal services and advice for non-profits and small business owners
Brooklyn A’s offices will remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic until health care officials advise it is safe to reopen them. However, this is not an interruption of our services; Brooklyn A will remain open for business remotely. We are serving clients and conducting intake for new clients through phone and video lines. We are hosting advocacy meetings and Q&A sessions through online conferencing services like Zoom. Working in partnership with other providers and the City of New York, we are launching a Housing Court Hotline for people with housing issues while housing courts are closed. We also launched a new Resource List that will continuously be updated.
We also need you, our supporters, to join us in our fight and support Brooklyn A’s work in these critical times. Help us provide ongoing legal services, advocacy, and community resources for our impoverished and disadvantaged neighbors. We know this is a challenging time for you, your family, and all New Yorkers. We care deeply about your wellbeing and that of the at-risk communities we serve.